Dread Nautical review friv game

The new work of Friv2Online Studio did not escape our attention, especially since it smelled of occult mysteries and scary inhabitants of the sea depths. Let's share our impressions of Dread Nautica in the review.


On the darkest nights, when heavy clouds stretched the sky to the horizon, and the sea spat foam and rattled boats on the pier in a hysterical frenzy, the drunken fishermen in the old tavern told tales of a ship that only half existed.

The old sea wolves told of the impossibly thick fog that supposedly chased the stranded schooners, and of the huge liner that superstitious sailors saw in the darkness above the waves. Some of them swore that they heard a barely audible ship's horn coming from under the icy water.

Friv2Online Studio, an experienced Hungarian company specializing mostly in pinball games, was obviously inspired by Lovecraft's gloomy works, departed from the usual scenario and rolled out a rogue-lite RPG with monsters and maddening voices, but somehow after sleeves.

Let's divide the game into three key components for convenience: story, graphics and gameplay. With proper attention to each of these elements, the sum of them makes a cool project. If the game does not reach any of the points, it can be pulled up by the remaining ones. This is a highly simplified scheme, but in this particular case it will allow me to illustrate the main idea succinctly. So how is Dread Nautica doing?


A cruise ship falls under the influence of some evil creature that casts a spell on the passengers and crew. At the will of the creature, most of them not only become possessed, but radically change their appearance. Those who are lucky enough to become test subjects are left to wander in the labyrinths of their own illusions, trying to make sense of what is happening.

There are four heroes to choose from: an old cop from dystopian detective novels, a dark-skinned singer, a former yakuza looking for a peaceful life, and a teenage girl with a handheld console.

And if the clothes and backstories of most of the characters seem to give away their belonging to a common historical period, and the entourage of the ship hints at the retro era with old gambling halls and classic furnishings, where did a child with something like a Nintendo with online gaming support come from?

Is this an attempt to create a digestible hero for young gamers? An element of retrofuturism? Why not make a hippie girl, a board game fanatic, or a geek leading a radio club? It would look much more organic.


The plot unfolds as you move through the floors of the ship: The hero wakes up in the only safe cabin on the ship, meets the murky guy who has taken refuge there, and takes the elevator to scour the floors and search for supplies to set up their joint shelter.

In the process he finds ominous books, monsters and characters trying to survive. And it doesn't matter who you chose as protagonist - their dialog lines are the same, repeated word for word with the only difference being the voice acting.


You carefully adapt the cabin to life from the collected resources, building there a workbench, a medbay, beds, so that the rescued had a place to rest, regularly replenish the food supply. Even so, the survivors will not go with you for nothing - they must be persuaded.

Just imagine: you break into some bathroom, where an elderly retired soldier fights off hordes of monsters with a water pipe, you save him and reasonably suggest going to a safe zone, where you can give rest to old bones and just join forces with others - the situation as if disposes.

But the man is not timid, squints doubtfully and says that he needs to think. A day without sleep surrounded by possessed monsters is enough for him. Indeed, what could be scarier than a sane man who has just saved your life?


And this is only the first of the characters encountered. The system of rather mediocre dialogs is built around reputation - you answer incorrectly and thus delay the appearance of the next survivor in your team. You'll have to return to the floor, clear it again and continue the persuasion.

The level ends when your character comes across a ship's horn to signal SOS. Press the button, the howler emits a long groan, and the protagonist loses consciousness, coming to himself already in the shelter. Remarkably, the bridge is present on every floor of the ship. Probably a tribute to sci-fi again.


We can discuss about tastes in graphics for a long time, especially when talking about free to experiment indies. But the true beauty of the game, it is not in one photorealism, but in the right layout of colors, in a well-maintained style, in the little things that make up the atmosphere of the project.

Dread Nautica's visuals were made by several different designers, each of whom had his own vision of the future friv game, which was not coordinated with the others. So, the ship's filling may not be the most diverse, but at least it is full of details and pleasant lighting.

And it's absolutely incomprehensible how the heroes manage to get a golf club out of the next drawn dish dryer, because they don't have fingers. And if the same Eldritch dedicated to Lovecraft is entirely in this guise, here there is a strong contrast. Unpretentious, completely unattractive character models came from the distant past, from the early three-dimensional friv games, and as if they appeared in a world where they should not have existed in the first place.


Horrible animation of blurred faces was deliberately embellished with excited gesticulation. I haven't seen such pearls in games for a long time. Why was it necessary to aggravate the situation with a dynamic kill camera? Why show characters so close during dialogs? It's an obvious flaw, as if they were trying to emphasize it, to disguise it in plain sight, but it turned out to be snaggy.

Special attention should be paid to the interface, where we find already the third look at the visuals, something reminiscent of old games about secret agents. There is some style in the angular drawing, but it is lost in the unfriendly design and poor gamut, when you can't tell at once whether the selected object is highlighted or vice versa.


The elevator's load capacity allows you to take up to three people on board at once. Characters are characterized not only by stats, but also by unique abilities, which are especially well revealed by the middle of the friv game.

From the killed monsters fall runes for the development of characteristics and junk, for crafting, repair and upgrade equipment. Everyone has one slot for gear, and several for weapons and health kits. Guns and armor wear out very quickly, so levels should be studied in detail for decent alternatives.

The whole gameplay is built around resource management and careful distribution of the load on weapons and heroes' health.


Some monsters tend to be dormant; attacking them from the flank can deal serious critical damage, but enemies can also wake up due to the noise. The combat system obliges players to find the best behavioral strategies for each fight, use the environment, buffs and change the type of weapons according to the situation.

The very lifeline, which, perhaps, does not shine with extraordinary mechanics, but makes users think and calculate, sacrifice something, take risks somewhere. For example, the further into the depths, the more valuable each unit of junk becomes, and the game will temptingly offer to use a little less resource for repair, but with a chance to lose a piece of clothing permanently.


Let's be honest, Dread Nautica seems to be sewn from different scraps, most of which have worn out quite a bit. It was not possible to present the characters in an interesting way - they forgot to work out the stories and dialogs. The attempt to give the original visual style, for my taste, failed miserably, but maybe someone will believe it.

There are a lot of controversial situations and decisions in the friv game that call into question the seriousness of the characters' situation. If this is a comedy or a parody of Lovecraft's mythos - where is the humor, even if it is black? If it's an ode to gloom and entourage, they forgot to put the main ingredients.

It's only the gameplay, which is still geared more towards mobile games and handheld consoles, that pulls Dread Nautica into the ranks of playable projects. But not so much into a number of tactical RPGs, but into the realm of casual computer board friv games. Challenging, exciting, but not deep enough.